Library Juice 2:17 - Supplement, April 28, 1999

This excerpt contains articles about Sanford Berman. For the complete issue: Library Juice

Library Juice 2:17 supplement

Sanford Berman


1. Sanford Berman's Resignation - the story, some background, and links
2. Petition in support of Sanford Berman
3. "Hennepin Cataloger Calls Forced Transfer Retaliation" - AL article
4. Response from Charles Brown to ALA Council discussion
5. Al Kagan's response to Charles Brown
6. S. Berman's response to Charles Brown
7. S. Berman's proposed amendment to the Library Bill of Rights
8. The "offending" letter to MINITEX

Quote for the week:

"It's past the point where gentle people continue to believe that
reason will prevail when dealing with the principal administrators
in this case..."

-Cataloger at HCL in the wake of Sanford Berman's resignation


1. Sanford Berman's Resignation - the story, some background, and URLs

Sandy Berman has resigned from his job as head cataloger at
Hennepin County Library.  He has resigned in protest of recent
actions against him by the management.  The story is as depressing
as it is incredible.  Here it is in a nutshell.

Things haven't exactly been "nice" there for some time, but the
recent trouble started early this year.  HCL management made the
not altogether unreasonable decision to join OCLC as a full
contributor.  Sandy Berman has never spoken against joining OCLC;
in fact, he has spoken of ways the move could be valuable.  He did
consult with an expert on networked cataloging outside of HCL -
Bill DeJohn, the head of MINITEX.  He was interested in background
information about specific technical issues.  Sandy viewed
this consultation as simply a part of his job as head cataloger.
After the meeting, he sent an informal memo about it to his
colleagues, which included some routine correspondence between him
and MINITEX.  Mangement apparently felt threatened by his
independence and by his longtime policy of sharing relevant
information "downward" with his own staff. 

Charles Brown, the director, issued a "written reprimand,"
complete with false accusations and a lack of any relationship
between actual events and  HCL policies.  Sanford Berman made
his case to have the reprimand rescinded and removed from his file,
emphasizing that he never spoke against the decision to join OCLC,
and in fact supported it.  (Brown continues to insinuate
otherwise.)  Berman's sole concern was about HCL's being billed
for royalties on the use of their own fiction records.  The
written reprimand was (at the time) the culmination of a fractious
relationship between Sandy Berman and his immediate supervisor,
Elizabeth Feinberg, as well as Charles Brown.  Since the written
reprimand was so clearly without basis, Berman honestly expected
that it would be rescinded.  He warned that if it was not, he
would make the issue public, and issue copies of their
correspondence to his professional colleagues worldwide.  Brown
refused to rescind the reprimand, and Sanford Berman made good on
his promise to make the issue public.  The result was a flood of
angry letters into Charles Brown's office, demanding that the
written reprimand be rescinded.  (A few of these letters have
circulated publicly as email and can be found in previous issues
of Library Juice; many others are available in the dossier
available directly from Sandy, and one also in Library Juice.) 

Around the same time, HCL began to advertise its decision to join
OCLC.  Brown issued a press release that praised Berman to the sky
for his contributions to cataloging, and made him the star of the
PR for the decision. (This press release caused the first outbreak
of a serious epidemic of understandable nauseau within the HCL
system and elsewhere.)   OCLC prepared to announce the decision in
its newsletter, and sent a copy of their article directly to Sandy
for approval or corrections.  Feinberg instructed the newsletter
editor at OCLC to ignore Sandy's changes, despite not having the
authority to do so.
(This is turning out to be the swan dive of the formal authorities
at HCL, and is also tragic, both for Sandy and the organization as a
whole.  A scholar in  organizational studies should find much of
interest in the events of the past year and the events that continue
to unfold.  Organizational forensics, anyone?)

What happened next is difficult to believe, after the outpouring
of support from colleagues in response to the news of the written
reprimand.  Charles Brown re-assigned Sandy Berman to a
"toilet-cleaning job" (Sandy's words) putting together a
guide documenting HCL's cataloging procedures; issued a press release 
celebrating the wonderful "project" Sandy will be undertaking (we
should all look forward to the marvelously clean toilets of HCL, just
in time for the second wave of nauseau?), and installed Elizabeth
Feinberg as chief cataloger.

The story is likely to have life in the library press for some time.

The current situation is as follows:

Morale in the entire HCL system is trashed, by a shit bomb. 
Cataloging was ground zero, and the devestation continues to spread.

Sandy Berman has resigned his job in protest....  The word protest
is weak; perhaps disgust, or despair, is a better word. 

Sandy Berman's 30 year contribution to cataloging lives on in his
writings and in the hearts, minds and cataloging records of his
thousands of followers.

Charles Brown has ruined his own professional reputation.  He is
presently complaing of being under attack.  These protestations
are feeble in light of the devastation he has caused in the
cataloging department - organizationally as well as emotionally.

Is there another side to the story?  Sure, just like there was another
side to the Exxon Valdez disaster.  In fact there isn't much that
Charles Brown can say.  His public defense was to talk up the
publishing project to which Sandy had been assigned.  His own best
hope is that the story will eventually be buried in time, and
buried by those similarly in power with similar interests.... 

...On a TV "news" program recently I heard the anchor-actor read some
words asking why there are no heroes anymore.  I was nauseated.

Thank you Sandy, for being a hero for the generations.  Please
make the most of your retirement from HCL.

I urge readers to sign the following petition in support of Sandy Berman.
Now that he has retired, it is less urgent, but your signature is still
needed to help his morale:

For more detailed background on the situation, see Chris Dodge's page at:

See also two previous issues of Library Juice: No.'s 2:9 and 2:16, at

Sandy welcomes your personal support and questions.  You can contact
him at:

S. Berman
4400 Morningside Road
Edina, MN  55416

(He's gone off the net for a while.)


2. Petition at

Whereas Sanford Berman is one of the most respected voices in the
field of librarianship and is, for librarianship, what the Japanese
call a "living national treasure".

Whereas his dedicated and creative work at Hennepin County Library
has enhanced the reputation of HCL tremendously through his
innovative approaches to cataloging and brought it and libraries
around the country significant benefits and

Whereas Sanford Berman was unfairly formally reprimanded by
management and then peremptorily reassigned (i.e removed from his
position in cataloging) on the pretext of his discussion of
professional matters with colleagues and the voicing of his principled opinions on library issues.

Therefore, we state emphatically

that we decry the denial of Sanford Berman's rights to discuss
differing opinions on professional matters in his area of expertise,
and express our outrage at the behavior of Hennepin County Library,
Berman's employer, in exiling him to work away from the cataloging to
which he has dedicated several highly productive decades and that

we condemn HCL management and demand that they a) rescind
Berman's formal reprimand and offer him an apology and b) request
his return to his position in the cataloging department of HCL and
c) cease and desist in the harassment of Berman and other HCL

(Written by Mark Rosenzweig, list of signatories follows the
document on the web page.)


3. American Libraries Online article for 4/23/99

>  Hennepin Cataloger Calls Forced Transfer Retaliation
>  Sanford Berman, head cataloger at Hennepin County
>  Library in Minnesota, told American Libraries that HCL
>  Director Charles Brown and Human Resources Officer Tom
>  O'Neil had informed him April 20 that he was being
>  removed from his post and assigned to a "special
>  project," a transfer that he believes is "clearly
>  retaliation" for speaking out against a reprimand he
>  had received in February.
>  In an April 19 news release, the library announced that
>  it planned to produce a cataloging practices manual,
>  "documenting the innovative cataloging processes that
>  have made HCL a leader in the modernization of library
>  subject headings," and that Berman, "a nationally
>  recognized expert in the elimination of biases,
>  prejudices, and cultural insensitivity in library
>  cataloging, will write the new manual and ready it for
>  distribution."
>  Berman called the project "a cockamamy toilet-cleaning
>  job" but he had no legal recourse, since the
>  reassignment did not reduce his salary or grade. "The
>  purpose is to produce humiliation and punishment,"
>  Berman said he was advised by his lawyer, "leading
>  ultimately to resignation."


4. Charles Brown's response to ALA Council discussion

From: "brown, charles" <>
To: ALA Council List <>
Cc: <>
Subject: Rosenzweig Resolution/Petition - S. Berman
Date: Thu, 22 Apr 1999 12:19:22 -0500
MIME-Version: 1.0

As much as I deplore the use of the Council list in this way, as the head of
an institution and the "management" that--once again--is being "condemned"
and maligned on it, I feel as though I have no choice but to respond.

What follows is a description of the reassignment project in question.
After reviewing it, I believe that most will concur that far from being
"exiled," this represents an important undertaking for HCL--and the
profession in general.

Thank you.



* Hennepin County Library Cataloging Practices Manual to be used by
staff and available to other libraries via a variety of delivery systems.
* A resource that that will facilitate the work necessary to retain
the parts of the HCL catalog that add value and that make HCL records
acceptable to others.


The interviews conducted by the Cataloging Project Team as part of the
re-engineering identified a critical need that must be addressed.  Several
staff members involved in the cataloging process expressed concern about the
lack of any formal documentation of the innovative cataloging practices
unique to HCL.  Staff comments, coupled with requests from other libraries,
indicate an obvious need to document what we do and to share it with the
greater library community.

Sanford Berman has devoted much of his professional career to catalog
reform, and is widely credited with the massive modernization of library
subject headings.  His efforts to analyze the biases, prejudices and
insensitivity that permeated library catalogs and his demonstrated
leadership in the advancement of user-sensitive cataloging, have made the
HCL catalog a model for others.  This project will give him an opportunity
to expand his influence by developing and delivering a publication of how
Hennepin County Library catalogs.

The Cataloging Re-engineering project has afforded us this opportunity to
contribute and participate in ways previously not possible.  We have the
rare opportunity to integrate the best of three worlds: standards such as
AACR2; OCLC functionality; and HCL's cataloging practices for adding value
in subject and content.  We are now able to mainstream our work and take
what we do and make it broadly available to libraries throughout the
country.  The objective is to market our methods and processes to libraries
interested in enhancing their catalogs, just as we currently market our
cataloging output.


PHASE 1 - Launch
April 20, 1999
Sanford Berman is reassigned to the project.  Elizabeth Feinberg assumes
supervisory and management responsibility for the cataloging unit. 

PHASE 2 - Preliminary Project Planning
April 20 - May 5, 1999
* Sanford Berman will work with Nancy Perron to develop a series of
training tools for cataloging.  Perron, who has prior experience in the
development of training manuals and handbooks, will provide Berman with
editorial support and training consultation.  Elizabeth Feinberg will
supervise the project.
* Berman will schedule a meeting with Feinberg and Perron to develop a
project time line, and performance and publication benchmarks to be used in
evaluating the process, product, and outcomes.  As project lead, Berman will
develop the plan, identify needed resources and coordinate scheduled
meetings of the project team.  Berman will also refine the benchmarks and
timelines suggested below.
* To facilitate the work, Berman will relocate to an office in HCL

PHASE 3 - Resource Mobilization
June 1 - September 1, 1999
* Berman will identify and develop or renew skills needed for the
* Identify other editing and publishing assistance or resources
* Conduct a market needs assessment.  Identify and define potential
markets and market characteristics. 
* Develop a marketing cost/benefit analysis that compares the
investment in cataloging enhancements with cost savings to be realized in
public service and reference functions as the catalog enhancements allow
users and staff to become more self-reliant in accessing information.

* Analyze the impact of integrated library systems on traditional
search strategies used by patrons. 
* Acquire an understanding of human-centered methods for finding
information in complex digital library systems
* Analyze current practices and the impact on patron access to
* Review other library's cataloging practices manuals.
* As part of the guidelines use the Callin/OPAC Review Team database.
* Develop knowledge of current trends in computer, information, and
library sciences

PHASE 4: Initial product development
September 2 - March, 2000
* Document how we catalog

PHASE 5: Product delivery systems 
March 2000 - December 2000
* Create a computer/information technology training interactive module
that supports distance learning goals and ideals
* Develop other, effective responses to changing opportunities in the
delivery of information
* Launch a homepage as part of the overall information gathering and
communication processes related to this project.
* Discover other training initiatives for this endeavor.
* Develop delivery systems founded on open dialogue and education for
the product.
* Help to create an electronic classroom and training initiatives and
be part of the Hennepin County Library 'College.'

PHASE 6: Training
January 2001 -
* Sponsor a forum to rollout the manual and training program.
* Seek cooperative partners such as Library School Programs or other
major public libraries and begin to teach cataloging the Hennepin way.

Charles M. Brown, Library Director
Hennepin County Library
12601 Ridgedale Drive
Minnetonka, MN 55305-1909
(612) 541-8580 [office]     (612)541-8600 [fax]


5. Response from Al Kagan

Now that Charles Brown has replied and his response is on the listserv, I
would like to comment.  Director Brown also faxed me his plan for "New
Product Development."  He somehow believes that I will agree with him after
I read the plan.  This is a case of losing track of reality if I ever saw

Whether or not the idea of developing a cataloging manual is a good idea
has just about nothing to do with the issue of how Sandy has been treated.
Sandy would be quite capable of producing a manual in the context of his
normal responsibilities if so directed.  Sandy is a prolific author and he
has produced a large body of work while doing his job.  The issue is
whether or not Mr. Brown understands that he needs to treat people with
respect, and the consequences of treating a real library star like dirt. He
is destroying morale throughout the system.

Would it be unreasonable to ask the Cataloging Dept if in fact they would
like to do a manual, or if there was a real need for a manual?  This did
not happen.  And of course Sandy was not consulted.  Mr Brown is living in
a dream world if he thinks we will buy his transparent responses.

Al Kagan
Africana Unit, Room 328
University of Illinois Library
1408 W. Gregory Drive
Urbana, IL 61801, USA

tel. 217-333-6519
fax. 217-333-2214


6. Response from Sanford Berman

What follows is the truth: There is no internal mor external clamor for
such a cataloging manual. One co-worker lately averred that she once said
in an interview that a "manual" would be nice, but she only meant a 3-ring
binder to aqccommodate memos!) I was never consulted about the
reassignment announced to me (and everyone else) last Monday morning. My
instruction: to immediately occupy a vaqcant office nremote from Tech
Services the next morning. I asked if that meant I would no longer
supervise the catalogers or perform cataloging. The unequivocal answer:
Yes. A local labor lawyer describes this all-too-common management tactic
as a means to inflict punishment and humiliation, ultimately leading to
resignation. That is exactly what happened. Since I refuse to submit to
further debasement and frankly can no longer tolerate the nonstop
deception perpetrated by HCL management, I am now on leave until 6-10-99,
at which time I begin a retirement two-and-a-half years sooner than I had
planned or intended. Think of this sad sequence as merely an "internal
personnel matter" or view it as another instance of squelching workplace
speech & imposing a ruthless "Business model" on a public institution
ostensibly dedicated to openness, service, and equity. See you in New
Orleans. For the last time. From a place of blossoming magnolia, scylla, &
daffodils... sandy berman


7. Sanford Berman's proposed amendment to the Library Bill of Rights

Resolution Committee: Please put the following resolution on the New
Orleans Council agenda:


WHEREAS the American Library Association is firmly committed to human
rights and freedom of expression (Policies 53 and 58.4.1); and

WHEREAS candid, robust debate is essential to the making of sound policy;

WHEREAS library staff do not universally enjoy the right to openly
discuss library professional issues without fear of reprisal;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that ALA Council amends the Library Bill of
Rights (53.1) by adding:  7) Libraries should permit and encourage a full
and free expression of views by staff on professional and policy matters.

Moved by:
Sanford Berman,


A brief reply to the argument that this declaration better belongs
in the professional ethics code: 1) The focus is entirely on free
speech, which perfectly harmonizes with the tone & substance of the
Library Bill of Rights; and 2) hardly anyone, in truth, sees the code
of ethics, but the Library Bill of Rights is often laminated, framed, displayed, and even distributed to public & staff--and thus seems an
ideal vehicle for stating with equal firmness & clarity that library
resources AND employees should be uncensored.

Sanford Berman

8. S.B.'s "offending" letter to MINITEX


Dear Bill DeJohn and Carla Dewey,   (of MINITEX -ed.)

First, many thanks for talking with me last Wednesday about AACR2
& affirming with me that Local deviations in punctuation and
abbreviation-practice, as well as main entry choice for
collections & anthologies, would not inhibit or impede the
interlibrary or internetwork transfer of cataloging &
bibliographic data.

Second, now having read your January 11th message "RE: Cataloging
Standards and AACR2," I agree with your assertion that AACR2 "is
the current, internationally-accepted set of ... cataloging rules
in most English-speaking countries."  However, your unmistakable
implication that because "cataloging experts have put their heads
together and developed agreements" on the "basic information to be
included in a cataloging record" those agreements, resulting in
AACR2, produce truly functional, useful cataloging records for the
vast majority of library users is disputable.  In fact, it's simply
wrong.  I served for a year as an ALA Round Table rep to the
original ALA AACR2 committee.  My vivid recollection is that
public and reference librarians were woefully underrepresented,
that academic librarians & LC staff largely created AACR2, and
that most of us "reps" were seldom aware of the full range of
deliberations & hardly able to influence the outcome
appreciably.  I submit that this imbalance of representation &
input (especially from public service colleagues, who are most
directly impacted & affected by such codes & rules) permitted a
panoply of foolish & unhelpful elements, ranging from
incomprehensible punctuation (including brackets, slashes, and
equal signs), unfamiliar abbreviations & Latinisms (like s.n.,
s.l., ca., b., and d.), and utterly unnecessary data (e.g., spine
sizes) appropriate solely for archival institutions
toname-formation rules that produce the access-wrecking "Cheng,
Lung" instead of "Chan, Jackie" or "Soviet Union. Komitet
Gosudarstvenno I Bezopasnosti" rather than the form that "common
sense" does unarguably dictate: KGB, and dictum that mandates
title main entry for collections and anthologies when both common
sense and actual studies indicate they are usually sought or
searched by the editor's or compiler's name and that effective
shelf-browsing would be frustrated when an Isaac Asimov sci-fi
collection, for example, must be located alphabetically under
title, not under "Asimov."

School, public, and community library users, in particular, were
not well served by the AACR2 drafters.  I invite you & Minitex to
join me in a nearly 3-decade-long campaign to genuinely make
library catalogs more user-friendly & much less elitist and

With warmest regards,

Sanford Berman

cc: E. Feinberg
     S. Charles
     C. Brown

  L I B R A R Y   J U I C E

| Except where noted, items appearing in Library Juice
| are copyright-free, so feel free to share them with
| colleagues and friends.  Library Juice is a free weekly
| publication edited by Rory Litwin.  Original senders
| are credited wherever possible; opinions are theirs.
| Your comments and suggestions are welcome.

This page was created by SimpleText2Html 1.0.3 on 28-Apr-99.